Speaking on ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday, Max Kellerman said “no one really cares about hockey” in the country, adding that it wasn’t one of the four major sports.
On the show, Kellerman said, “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in the United States of America, no one really cares about hockey. The old joke is, in every town there’s 20,000 hockey fans [and] they all have season tickets. So the arenas are always sold out, but the TV ratings don’t do anything. It’s not one of the four major team sports.”
— Claude Giroux (@28CGiroux) June 5, 2020
Kellerman drew fire from his co-workers as well. Linda Cohn, a longtime hockey fan and proponent of the game objected to Kellerman’s comments.
What do you mean “Nobody cares about hockey”. Very disappointed and surprised you would make a statement like this @maxkellerman. It’s insulting to this great game, those associated with it ,cover it, and to the passionate fan base here in the United States. #NHL https://t.co/mMWYgRj75v
— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) June 4, 2020
ESPN has often been criticized for its lack of hockey coverage and as observers pointed out, while the TV ratings for the NHL lag well behind the other three major US sports, they are also significantly better than the numbers for any other sport or league, like the MLS.
Hockey is alive and well @maxkellerman. The MLB only has a steady viewership because men over the age of 70 use it as a sleep remedy. I prefer vodka. People love this sport around the world, something neither the NFL nor the MLB can say. Just ask Charles Barkley about our playoff https://t.co/1ZCkJJsXwb
— Mike Milbury (@realmikemilbury) June 5, 2020
For what it’s worth, the NHL’s TV contract expires after the 2021-2022 season, and ESPN is reportedly interested in bidding on the next contract.
This feels like a desperate attempt to generate ratings, but either way, we trust that Linda Cohn will check Kellerman into the boards the next time she sees him in the halls of ESPN.
By Jon Sorensen